Late-night Musings: #MeToo

Unless you’re living under a rock (or, more realistically, a sane person who stays away from social media), you’ve probably heard about the #MeToo campaign taking social media by storm. 

I’ve already heard so many takes on it, and they all make sense; that’s what I liked about this campaign – everyone’s point is valid. If you want to share your story, it is welcomed and you get empathy (not sympathy) from so many others. If you don’t want to share your story, I support you; as a lot of statuses are saying, just because someone isn’t sharing their story doesn’t mean they weren’t harassed/assaulted, but then no one owes anyone their story.

I posted my #MeToo status yesterday morning.

Yesterday night, a friend came to me crying – she’d been molested in the parking lot of her apartment building. 

The horror and helplessness of watching her trying to articulate what she was feeling and figuring out how to deal with the cocktail of emotions she was feeling, not onky reminded me strongly of how I had felt, but it also brought home a point to me – this is an issue which goes so many layers deeper than we usually acknowledge. 

It has become a part of our societal fabric, and isn’t that just the the most excruciatingly horrific thing? Harrassment and assault (especially of women, but of men too) is something we accept as an everyday phenomenon. How did we reach such a stage? Shouldn’t we be doing something? 

I know this campaign will probably die a sudden death, like most social media trends, but what I will take away from this will be substantial – I take with me the realization that most of the women I know have faced assault/harrassment, and the many who did not post anything have probably gone through it too. And that sense of oneness, knowing that those feelings will be understood if I share them, is a heartening feeling. 

I am also heartened by the reactions from so many men, who have also been taken aback by the statuses pouring in, and have reached out to show solidarity and support. 

There’s no guarantee that anything will magically change, but I’m glad we’re talking about it. Because it’s a way for getting some points across…

… It’s not your fault

… You are not weak

… You deserve to have a safe space to share your feelings, and you can be that safe space for others

… Society cannot dictate your worth based on something that happened to you, so stop bothering about how others are judging you

… You are so much more than you believe

… Confide in trusted individuals, and get help if needed

… You. Are not. Weak.

If you don’t wish to talk to friends or family, talk to a counselor/therapist, or find your local Women’s Cell/Helpline. 

Help is out there if you want it. Empathy and understanding are out there, always. Don’t let something a cowardly person did, run your life. 

Don’t doubt your strength, ever.

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Life-changing Experiences

It’s been a while since I shared anything here. In this age of constant connectivity, and preference for bite-sized media, blogging has somewhat fallen to the sidelines. I’m myself guilty of procrastinating going through my subscribed blogs.

However, it’s still a huge fan of having a place to share my thoughts, and know they’ll be here when I want to take a walk down memory lane.

For today though, let’s talk about Bucket Lists.

In the last few months, I experienced some things which were novel, exciting, and addictive.

To begin with, I went to my first proper concert – Coldplay in Chicago, August 17th.

I had heard of Coldplay concerts being a visual extravaganza, with the light-up wristbands. But actually being in the middle of one was something else altogether.

My second life-changing experience was viewing the Total Solar Eclipse, August 21st.

Without and with solar glasses

I regretted not taking my DSLR along, because these pictures do no justice to the experience this actually was. The precious few minutes when the sun is completely covered and the corona is all you see, are a view like no other. The ring of visible light seems to sparkle and glisten like platinum, and the awe of being able to take off the viewing glasses and look right up at it, was a high unlike too many others. It was a bucket list item that I realized needed to be on my list only after I experienced it. Not complaining though…it’s fun being able to put an item on a list, and cross it off right away!

Next, was a fabulous Labor Day weekend trip to NYC. This qas my second time there, and I still enjoyed myself just as much as the first time. I would hate to drive in that city, but I love it otherwise.

Just another cliche, yet gorgeous photo of NYC at night

I also recently took part in a dance-drama, for the first time in 15 years. I went into it quite sure that I would have crippling stage fright, and get an anxiety attack on stage, and came out of it without any of that, but with a lot of new friends and a surprising realization that I can actually emote.

Cast of the play, ‘Tasher Desh’, Tagore Festival, UIUC, 2017 (PC: Shegufta Bakht Ahsan)

Also, just to explain, the play is called ‘Tasher Desh’, written by Rabindranath Tagore. Its a satirical play based on a Kingdom of playing cards. Yes, I was the Jack of Spades. Yes, I had to draw a moustache on my face.

Me being dramatic (PC: Shegufta Bakht Ahsan)

The start of this semester, along with interesting new activities, also brought with it a crazy amount of work and ramped up from 0 to 100 from before the semester even started.

Hashtag PhD Life

So basically, 2017 has been an interesting year. It is flying by (I cannot believe it is only 3 months away from 2018!), and I feel like I need a few extra months in this year to complete everything I wanted to complete within this year.

But in case wishful thinking doesn’t work, I’ll still have enough stories to recount decades down the road.

“Oh, 2017? That was quite a year. Let me tell you about that…”

The Power of Blogging

7 years.

200 posts.

As is wont, I forgot to commemorate my blog’s birthday (5th February, if you’re curious) this year too. But while I was going through past posts, I suddenly saw the small little ‘199’ next to the tab header.

So, for my 200th post, I decided to be contemplative.

I was an 18 year old girl, trying to find a momentary escape from exam-prep, when I started blogging. I don’t remember what I expected from it at the time, except that I was glad to have a place to write whatever I wished, and it could be potentially read by numerous people.

Now, going through all the posts over the years, I can see how I’ve evolved, how my writing style has evolved, how my interests have developed, and how blogging as a medium has fared.

All in all, I’m glad I took the plunge and I am still excited every time I press ‘Publish’…and that’s why I keep blogging…because even after 7 years, I still want to keep this blog up and going. It’s something I’ve become proud of.

As an exercise in better planning, I’ve decided to post at least twice a month, if not more (I’m hoping to make it weekly, but let’s take baby steps).

Thank you for sticking with me and for reading! I hope you’ve found your happy place in blogging too.

Look Back. Move Forward.

Hello hello. I think I might be late to this party (by at least a month), but better late than never, right?

To begin my posts in the new year, I’m going to do something I haven’t done much (except for blogging awards) – tackle a Tag. The New Year’s Tag, to be precise. I think it’s actually a YouTube tag, but eh…let’s adapt.

So let’s begin the mock interview!

(Note : WordPress is somehow bungling up the formatting of the bullet points. No amount of checking and rechecking is working. Help!)

(Update : My friend helped fix it! Yay for friends who know HTML! Thanks Sahil)

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Just stealthily adding in my favourite photograph that I clicked in 2015

 

  • If you could look back on one memory from last year that you wish you could relive, what would it be?

This one’s tough…but I think I’d say my trip to Hyderabad for a friend’s brother’s wedding (because it was marvelous fun), AND some memorable family get-togethers

  • What was one New Year’s Resolution that you accomplished

New Year’s resolutions always remind me of Calvin (from Calvin and Hobbes) as he explains how he doesn’t need resolutions because he’s already perfect. Pity I don’t think I’m as perfect as Calvin does, but I’m still not a big proponent of NY resolutions, because of their inevitably short life. Because circumstances change, and the same resolution cannot always hold true.

But, even with my ‘I-don’t-need-resolutions’ approach, I think I subconsciously resolved to stop worrying so much about what others were saying. I accomplished that…a bit.

  • 3 words to describe last year?

Exciting. Changing. Steadying.

  • Best music related creation/inspiration last year by an artist in your opinion?

Adele’s 25 (because however bandwagon-ish that may sound…for Adele, I don’t care) and some of the stuff on Coke Studio.

  • Something you’re looking forward to this coming year?

A lot of things. Hoping for quite a lot too. Let’s not jinx anything.

  • What did last year teach you?

That growing up and being independant is freeing and frightening at the same time. And that’s fine; life doesn’t progress in black and white, and is in fact mostly grey.

  • What was your most worn clothing item of last year?

I think there would a list of things because once I like something, I hold onto it like Christopher Robin held onto Pooh. Same goes for clothes, so I’m sure people were forced to see some of the same stuff on me repeatedly (and they were too polite to say anything) because I was so delighted with it and loved it too much.

  • If you had to sum up your year in one word, what would it be?

Hey! I’ve already used 3 words to describe the year 5 questions back, and now just ONE word? Do you not know of my rambling verbosity?

If I have to pick a word…Transformative.

  • What are you hoping for more of this coming year?

More books, more meeting up with old friends, more communication, more belief in good things to come.

  • What are you hoping for less of this coming year?

Less of YouTube binges (just like me to give up Facebook, but fall into the whirlpool of YouTube), less of apprehensiveness, less anxiety.

  • Best book you read last year?

Tough! But I think I really enjoyed working my way through the Watchman Books from Discworld by Terry Pratchett. Also, finally read Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, which was pretty haunting.

  • What is your New Year’s resolution for the upcoming year?

Refer to second question above.

However, I guess I continue with the wish to be more confident about myself and being so apprehensive about my instincts.


 

And that’s it! Tag complete. This was more fun than I expected, and required a lot more contemplation than I had anticipated.

Happy New Year everyone! Thanks for sticking around, and hope you’re having a wonderful year so far. Keep being awesome \m/

Aaaand the good ol’ Writer’s Block is back!

When I describe writer’s block as ‘good ol” I hope you hear the sarcasm in that. Because I seriously want nothing more than this block to get lost. In Pan’s Labyrinth for all I care.

To tide over my lack of funny-things-to-talk-about, I’m going to mention a show I’m slightly obsessed with right now – My Mad Fat Diary (MMFD). It’s a British teen drama, and though it describes itself as that, let me make it clear that it is anything but shallow.

The show talks about certain mental health issues in a way which is more refined and crystal clear than any other show/movie I have ever watched. And it deals extensively with body image issues, an issue which I think every single person has in some way or the other.

I’m usually not much of a fan girl of TV shows, (except when it comes to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Sherlock) but this show really pulled me in, hook, line and sinker. It’s an absolute joy seeing how the characters are built up and all the parallel stories come together. A lot of the predicaments the characters get into feel so relatable, and I am not ashamed to admit that I cried watching a few bits (damn there goes my cool dude persona).

You should watch it. It ended a few months back, though I got to know of the last season only a few days back. It’s just three short seasons, so just go watch it and thank me later.

Now. Next topic – A Movie I Do Not Like : Gone Girl.

<rant>

I just watched this movie on TV, and OH MY GOD WHY WOULD YOU END A MOVIE LIKE THAT?!?! It built up the suspense, intertwining two different narratives gorgeously, and then…BOOM. The whole Haha-the-movie’s-over-and-we-left-you-waiting-for-more. Now this is why I’m such a proponent of happy endings and feel-good movies. Because when I sit down and watch a movie, I don’t want it to end and leave me all jittery and high strung. Ugh. I love thrillers and mysteries, but if the antagonist doesn’t get their comeuppance in the end, it just makes me mad. I guess I’m still a bit of a kid that way.

</rant>

Okay, now I’m going to go and read some MMFD fan fiction. (HELP I might be obsessed)

Sometimes I have epiphanies which I wish I didn’t have (though they’re actually helpful)

(Note : This post is brought to you by screenshots, Ctrl+PrtScr, MS Paint and my awesome annotating skills. And an online meme generator)

It’s weird how we tend to not notice things which have been right under our noses, until our brain just suddenly catches it and goes all, hey don’t you feel like an idiot now? Haha.

So my brain decided to be extra active recently. It was only a few days back, when I was going through my mail, that I saw a email alerting me about a post by a blogger I follow. And something caught my eye… ‘Respond to this post by replying above this line’

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(Side note : I smudged out the blog name because I didn’t exactly know whether I should keep it on or not. I’m pretty sure though that if you search for that title, you’ll find it quicker than I can say I’m-bad-at-making-up-my-mind)

Believe you me, I REALLY did not know of this. I have been unconsciously reading this line since 4 years on WordPress (that’s right…4 years. WordPress even sent me a graphic to thank me for taggin’ along. You’re welcome WP).

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Digressing from post – Part 1

Back to the post…so I first subscribed to WordPress blogs 4 years back, and I’ve been getting post updates since then, but it was only 2 days back that I suddenly realized that Holy Guacamole! I can comment via email! Such a novel idea! Such amazing! Much wowe!

Now this was a happy moment. I quickly sent in a comment via email, and then went onto the blog itself, to check whether I was doing it right, because surely it couldn’t be that simple?! Click ‘Reply’, type comment and click ‘Send’?! Or could it?

Voila! There was my comment on her blog, and I didn’t even have to log in to WP and all! Oh boy!

To explain my (apparently) unfounded happiness, I would like to tell you all that the only reason I’m bad at commenting on other blogs, is because I’m lazy. There…I said it. I just can’t bring myself to login to WP, then open the blog, and then the post, and then put in a comment.

But if I can comment from Gmail itself…well, you’re all in for a lot of comments from me now!

This epiphany (or ‘sudden alertness’ could be a better description) was definitely helpful. But it made me feel like such a fool. Gah! How could I have not noticed this in four years?! Y u be lost and inattentive, brain?!

So now, if you suddenly see me around on your comments a lot, don’t fear. I’m not stalking you. I’m just revelling in the fact that I now know how to comment by mail. And I’m loving it \m/

In other news, I also figured out why I wasn’t getting updates from a lot of blogs that I follow. Now I don’t know whether, similar to the commenting fiasco, I just happened to overlook these settings, or WP somehow bungled stuff up. Because I stopped getting updates from some blogs after a while of getting them.

So anyway, there are settings you need to add for each blog you follow via that sneaky little ‘+Follow’ button on the top of a blog you’re visiting. Clicking that, just begins showing posts from that blog onto your Reader on WP, but doesn’t automatically subscribe you to email updates.

(Digressing from post – Part 2 : I would LOVE if everyone would add a ‘Subscribe’ button on their blogs! Makes following them so much easier!)

You have to change the settings you see…

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Now if you, like me, prefer reading your blogs on your email and not on the WP reader, then YOU NEED TO CHANGE ALL YOUR SETTINGS TO THE SECOND (GOOD) SETTING RIGHT NOW.

It has made my life so much better.

And if someone posts a lot, you can easily ask for mail updates only once a day, or once a week. Or never (but then, why follow them anyway?).

With my new-found knowledge, I promptly began following a few new bloggers, and changed settings to begin getting post updates from some of my favourite bloggers (who had sadly gotten placed in the BAD SETTING somehow).

I also unfollowed some blogs which didn’t have any posts in, say, 3-4 years, and some which had been deleted by their users.

Unfollowing blogs is quite a nostalgic experience. A few of the blogs I had to remove, had been part of the first few blogs I’d followed and enjoyed reading. And their authors had been the first ones to comment on my baby blog. But they’re somehow not around anymore. Oh well. Hopefully they’re happy and busy doing something else!

It still felt weird though. Like, letting go of some part of the past in a very tangible way.

Change will always be resisted I guess.

All things said and done, I think I should’ve sat down with the WP Manual/Handbook 4 years back. Or maybe I should just go and comment on some new posts now.

I have been writing. And exploring Delhi

Though my blog was silent for a while (okay, more than a while), I was writing posts on other sites. And I thought I could share them with you all!

A post from my time as an intern at the organization where I’m working now is here.

I’ve also been blogging for a storytelling organization, Darwesh. So you’ll find a few posts by me at their blog here. (For the record, visiting old monuments and hearing fascinating stories about bygone eras? Count me in!).

As a result of getting associated with Darwesh, I’ve ended up exploring a lot more of Delhi in the last few months than I’ve been able to in all the years I’ve lived here (since I was born, to be precise). Some pictures below, because they’re beautiful and remind me of awesome places.

Roshanara Begum's tomb in Roshanara Bagh

Roshanara Begum’s tomb in Roshanara Bagh

An old haveli door in Chawri Bazar, Old Delhi

An old haveli door in Mehrauli

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Dome and spire of Khwaja Bakhtiyar Kaki’s dargah in Mehrauli, which is the end point of the Phoolwalon ki Sair festival

Safdarjung's Tomb

Safdarjung’s Tomb

A facade of Safdarjung's Tpmb

A facade of Safdarjung’s Tpmb

The parrots'shrieking is the only noise at this tomb

The parrots’shrieking is the only noise at this tomb

All pictures taken by me. So please ask for permission before using them. Kthnxbai.